What do you think when you think “User Experience”?  For me, I think of a simple and easy to use interaction with a product.  So, what’s the most important? The features that make the product easy to use or the product itself that solves a problem for the user?  If you think the latter, then you are using product thinking.  So, why is this important to user experience?

From Interaction Design:

It can be easy to get bogged down in developing features when we get into user experience design. It’s not that features aren’t important but that they are often secondary to the reason a customer or user buys our product. That reason is simple; the user buys the product to solve a real world problem for themselves.

Features are a very important part of any product.  But they are just a part of that product.  The product itself is what solves the problem.  Product thinking is a way to consider the core user experience.  The Core experience is why people use the product in the first place.  So, what exactly does this have to do with building features?

Well, once you’ve identified the core user experience you can use product thinking to create better features.  This is accomplished by defining the problem or problems that the product tackles, so you can then create the solution (in the form of features).

Let’s consider a company like Hootsuite for instance.  What is the core problem they are trying to address? People trying to manage multiple social media accounts at one time.  Product thinking then considers specific problems experienced by people trying to accomplish this goal.  Once you’ve identified those problems –you can create some great features to solve these problems and create a great user experience.

Nikkel Blaase on Problem-Solution-Fit:

Products become meaningful when the provided solution fits the uncovered problem.This solution describes the way a problem will be solved. Thus, the problem-solution-fit defines the core user experience of a product. The concrete features are extending this experience and support the core experience, but they cannot replace it. Interaction design and visual design can make a product beautiful, easy-to-use, and delightful, but it can’t make the product meaningful. This is why a proper problem-solution-fit is so critical for the success of a product.

Product thinking is truly instrumental in helping designers to build the right features that lead to an amazing user experience.  This is because you have to see the user experience of a product as a whole, including why that product exists in the first place. It also helps designers to ask the right questions about features that are or aren’t necessary to the product.

What is your opinion on product thinking? Do you think that it is instrumental in helping designers accomplish a great user experience for users?  What do you think the most valuable part of product thinking is?  How else do you think designers can use product thinking to improve user experience? Comment below!